The exclusion of Mayotte from the Indian Ocean Commission sows discord in Parliament


Emmanuel Macron greets the President of the Comoros, Azali Assoumani, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on January 11, 2023.

This project of the government was purely and simply withdrawn from the agenda of the National Assembly, Tuesday January 24: it had every chance of being rejected during the vote planned in public session Wednesday 25. By mobilizing against him the parliamentarians of Mayotte, the oppositions and part of the majority, a text of technical appearance – a revision of an international agreement involving France in the Indian Ocean – succeeded in sowing discord.

Led by the Foreign Affairs Committee, the ratification bill concerned cooperation within the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), which since 1986 has brought together five French-speaking island states (France, Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar) . A great tool for the Quai d’Orsay, anxious to feed the French “Indo-Pacific strategy”. The problem is that to spare the Comoros, which claim the French territory of Mayotte and let tens of thousands of migrants leave there each year, Paris has only committed itself to the COI in respect of the island of Reunion, excluding Mayotte.

The Comoros still accept deportations of illegal immigrants (20,000 in 2022) carried out by France. They have many French dual nationals. And bring a precious voice to Paris in certain votes of the United Nations (UN).

Read also: Mayotte: four key dates to understand the migratory tensions on the archipelago

The Comorian president, Azali Assoumani, received at the Elysée by Emmanuel Macron on January 11 for the fifth time in three years, is blocking any change. And the COI agreement revised in 2020 and now put to the vote, of questionable constitutional soundness with regard to equality between the territories of the Republic, maintains this status quo.

Except for technical projects that combine ” case by case “ Mayotte at the IOC, the departmentalization of the island in 2011 had no consequences on its integration within the Commission, noted the Senate. The latter nevertheless adopted the project in July 2022.

“illegitimate claims”

Paris funds 40% of the Commission’s budget (1.4 million euros). For 2018-2022, France has also contributed more than 41 million euros to regional actions developed within this framework – fisheries, environment, health – through the French Development Agency. The IOC is content to thus affix its label to projects carried out by others, the European Union in particular. These investments, which are growing rapidly, should reach 500 million in 2024-2025.

The mobilization against the text sounded in the Foreign Affairs Committee on January 11, when Estelle Youssouffa, MP for Mayotte (Freedom, Independents, Overseas and Territories, LIOT), rapporteur for the text, explained the reasons for rejecting it. Besides the “serious problem affecting respect for the sovereignty of France posed by the exclusion in principle of the department of Mayotte”, according to the MP, the COI displays a shaky ethic. The IOC has a bloated General Secretariat of 80 people in Mauritius, “questionable accounting practices – the EU has declared certain expenditure ineligible for reimbursement, including €118,000 of fraud and €460,000 of unjustified expenditure”.

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